Loved ones with dementia can benefit from a wide variety of programs and therapies. These can include physical therapy, art therapy, pet therapy, and countless others. A lesser-known therapy that assists loved ones with memory loss is aromatherapy.
Let’s discuss what aromatherapy is, what benefits it provides, what to keep in mind when using aromatherapy, and the future of this therapy being utilized in memory care.
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that uses scented essential oils from flowers, plants, herbs, and trees to improve both physical and mental health. It works by stimulating the olfactory receptors, which, in turn, stimulate parts of the brain that relate to our well-being.
Particular scents work better for different goals. For example, lavender oil is meant to promote sleep. Lemon balm can be used as a lotion to induce feelings of calm. Eucalyptus oil is supposed to be good for cold symptoms.
Aromatherapy oils can be sprinkled on pillowcases, added to baths, warmed in an oil burner, or massaged into the skin.
Benefits of Aromatherapy for Dementia Patients
There are a myriad of benefits of aromatherapy for your loved one with dementia.
Some essential oils are known to stimulate cognitive functioning and memory for those with memory loss.
Aromatherapy oils like lavender, bergamot, and lemon balm can help calm someone down and suppress aggression and agitation.
There’s evidence that aromatherapy may be effective in helping those with dementia to physically relax.
Implementing Aromatherapy in Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care
These oils are the most typically used for their therapeutic properties.
Bergamot has a spicy-sweet fragrance that’s similar to citrus that stimulates the feel-good hormones, dopamine and serotonin. It’s also useful in easing anxiety, promoting a good night’s sleep, and relieving muscle tension.
A strong lemon scent can promote calmness and ease agitation. Research has also shown that inhaling lemon balm boosted cognition and alleviated anxiety and depression. Lemon balm oil works well in a massage.
Peppermint is an energizing aroma that boosts alertness and aids memory by boosting oxygen flow to the brain. It can also be used to calm anxiety, relieve headaches, and relax muscles. Make sure to only use it during that day as it can be very invigorating.
Lavender has a sweet floral scent with hints of balsam, which can relax muscles and nerves. Lavender can be effective when your loved one with dementia becomes anxious or agitated. It can also be helpful in promoting sleep when you spray a mixture of lavender and water on linens.
The scent of rosemary can stimulate the brain and boost cognitive function. It can help your loved one recall memories and boost accuracy and speed when managing daily tasks.
While aromatherapy has so many benefits, it also can have some drawbacks that need to be managed with care.
Keep these things in mind when using them with your loved ones:
- Oils are potent and may cause a headache.
- The smells may trigger memories that your loved one finds confusing or upsetting, so watching their behavior closely is essential.
- Some oils, like thyme oil, have a stimulating effect that may cause agitation.
- Oils may not be suitable if they have eczema, psoriasis, allergies, cuts, or bruises.
- Practice aromatherapy in a well-ventilated area.
- Discontinue aromatherapy right away if a rash appears.
The Future of Aromatherapy in Care Settings
There are many studies that show the use of aromatherapy benefits those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. For example, scientists in Japan have successfully isolated active compounds from various plant-based medicines. Using these methods, they pinpointed and extracted active compounds present in Drynaria rhizome, an herbal remedy known for its memory-enhancing properties. It’s been proven to alleviate disease characteristics in mouse models afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
The proof of the benefits of aromatherapy on those with memory loss is consistently being found, solidifying a place in the future of care settings.
Memory Therapy Options at Terra Vista
At Terra Vista, we prioritize the safety, health, and happiness of your loved one. To cater to their well-being, we offer a diverse range of programs, including art therapy, speech therapy, exercise sessions, socialization opportunities, aromatherapy, and more. All of these activities are conducted in a secure and comforting environment.
Once your loved ones become part of the Terra Vista community, they join our close-knit family. We are wholeheartedly committed to delivering steadfast care, fostering an attentive environment, and organizing activities that guarantee each day is filled with fulfillment and joy.
Terra Vista is proudly partnered with Memory Care Corp.
If you’re interested in learning more about our memory care center, call us at 630-793-0753 or contact us online.